Monday, October 31, 2005

The Cabin Boilerplate. 

From The New York Times, November 1, 2005

(photo by David Needleman)

As a comedian, actor and satirist, Chris Elliott has made a career out of blurring the line between truth and absurdity. As (author of the novel The Shroud of the Thwacker) he has unintentionally fuzzied things further by falling for an online spoof and incorporating a fictional robot into his book as a historical figure...

Now, Mr. Elliott finds himself in a comic nightmare, bending over backward to avoid being accused of a comedian's cardinal sin - lifting someone else's joke - and agreeing to a financial settlement with the robot's creator to head off potential litigation...

To his satirical 19th-century mix of gas-powered wooden cellphones and imagined New York landmarks like the original Ray's Pizzeria, Mr. Elliott adds a minor but intriguing character named Boilerplate, a robot said to be developed by the inventor Archibald Campion in the late 1800's. According to a deliciously detailed Internet site that tracks the robot's history, Boilerplate was designed to replace humans in combat; it took part in Roosevelt's campaign at San Juan Hill, joined the hunt for Pancho Villa, and fought in and, ultimately, disappeared during World War I.

But in fact, Boilerplate never was. It is the creation of Paul Guinan, an illustrator and graphic novelist in Portland, Oregon, who with his wife, Anina Bennett, is the author of "Heartbreakers Meet Boilerplate," published in July by IDW Publishing...

Read the complete article here.

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